Center Launches Dan Rather: American Journalist
AUSTIN, Texas — The Briscoe Center proudly presents, Dan Rather: American Journalist, an immersive digital humanities project. Featuring over 2,000 digitized documents, 300 excerpts from 12 oral history interviews, and over 500 video clips, visitors can dive deep into modern American history through the lens of Rather’s career.
“Dan Rather is one of America’s finest journalists, and his career is worthy of study in and of itself. However, the great strength of Dan Rather: American Journalist is its power to speak to the flashpoints of modern history from the 1950s through the present day, and to help define the inner workings of journalism,” said Don Carleton, executive director at the Briscoe Center.”
The result of three years of research, Dan Rather: American Journalist is drawn from materials found in 25 separate collections housed in the Briscoe Center’s vast news media and photojournalism holdings, as well as other archives and libraries. Archival sources include production notes, original clips, transcripts of shows, press reviews, photographs, and artifacts, as well as oral interviews with Rather’s former collaborators.
The center officially launched the site with a symposium earlier this month, hosted by the Moody College for Communication. The symposium included a Q&A with Rather and a panel discussion with three veteran CBS news producers who worked closely with him.
Fulfilling his dream of being a reporter, Dan Rather has pursued a long, prestigious, and at times controversial career in journalism that spans over 60 years. He has reported on and investigated many major stories — from the civil rights movement and the assassination of President Kennedy to the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. After joining CBS in 1960, he worked for renowned investigative magazines such as CBS Reports and 60 Minutes, covered every election since 1964, and has interviewed a plethora of major political players. In addition to anchoring the CBS Evening News for 24 years, Rather has also reported on the ground about crises and conflicts on five continents. At the symposium, Rather spoke about the value of historical study to the next generation of journalists.
“History helps give context and perspective to what’s happening currently,” said Rather. “I wish I’d had more history. I had some in college but not much. I’ve been in an effort to catch up ever since. I wish those studying to be journalists would take more history.”
Dan Rather: American Journalist draws predominantly from the Briscoe Center’s vast news media history holdings. They include the personal papers of industry pioneers, rare newspapers, unique clipping morgues, and an unmatched photography collection. Collections include the papers of Walter Cronkite, Robert Trout, Morley Safer, and Andy Rooney, as well as the papers of many producers including Harry Reasoner, Joseph and Shirley Wershba, and Philip Scheffler. The center also houses the archives of photojournalists Eddie Adams, Charles Moore, Eric Draper, Flip Schulke, Robert McNeely, and Diana Walker, among many others. Newspaper archives include some of the earliest known papers published in Texas and the Lower Mississippi River Valley, as well as the invaluable research archives of the New York Times and Newsweek.
The Briscoe Center fosters exploration of the American past by collecting, preserving, and making available the evidence of history. The center is home to over 8 million photographs, 200,000 books and newspapers, 100,000 audio and video recordings, 60,000 maps and material culture items, 13 historic buildings, and 84,000 linear feet (17 miles) of manuscripts and archives.